In this episode I’m chatting with Lin Chen, the founder of Pink Moon.
She’s got a great blueprint for success > she first launched her beauty consultancy which gave her positive cash flow to launch a curated ecomm store and then used the data and insights from that to launch her own line - all the while growing a loyal community. Genius. We also go through what she’s seen in the industry and what beauty founders should absolutely prioritise and on the flip side what not to do.
Pink Moon today is an inclusive wellcare + community oasis created for women – through every phase of life.
Their mission is to provide a communal sanctuary that inspires sustainable living and genuine self-love through beautiful products, packaging and feel good things.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Yeah, so Pink Moon is first and foremost, a community of women and we are also a hybrid e commerce marketplace, wellcare space and an in house brand focused on well care for women through every journey of their life. Gosh, it all sounds amazing and it looks amazing. I love the branding and I was looking at some of the videos online of the space that you're going to be launching and it's just so speaking to me, it's my kind of vibe. I want to go back to. Obviously this is a lot for one. Um, all these different facets of the business.
00:04:32 So I want to go back to where your entrepreneurial story actually starts and what got you interested in Pink Moon. Yeah, so I've been really passionate about the sustainable beauty wellness space for quite some time and it was actually kind of accidentally how I entered into the space. I was in middle school and I had an older friend who was sending me propaganda from Pita and for those who don't know what peter is. P does an animal rights organization that's based here in the United States and the advocate for all kinds of causes from animal testing to refer to veganism and whatnot. And so this friend sent me brochures about animal testing and I was just shocked to learn about animal testing in the cosmetic industry and being an animal lover myself, I completely like went through my entire medicine cabinet and told my mom I'm not going to use these products anymore. And you can only shop from these brands and these were the brands that were only sold at whole foods, health food markets, farmers market. So essentially they were natural.
00:05:35 But I didn't know at that time, my first how do you know of a brands tested on animals? So there's directories online or you can even just quickly type in like Loreal Animal testing and you'll see the brands under the Loreal group that test on animals. And so if you do a quick google search, it's easy to find information about which brands are testing on animals. Still, I don't know how I missed that. Like I totally forgot that that was still a thing. I just assumed that it wasn't anymore or that we've moved past that That's so crazy. Yeah. So at that time, you know, those brands that didn't test on animals for the quote natural ones. And so I was unknowingly using these natural, you know, sustainable products And then it wasn't until after college that I started to learn more about the ingredients in skin care products and I launched my career at 100% pure, which is one of the very first natural vegan cosmetics brands to bring natural products to the masses. And so it started there as a summer intern helping out with their social media and marketing team.
00:06:38 And from there I was like wow this is my dream job, I want to work at a brand that's doing meaningful work for animals, for the environment, for people's health and my left that internship to work in corporate, I felt like it was important as a new college grad to have corporate experience in my career and I want to go work for a global pr firm in SAn Francisco and all my clients were in tech and that is, I mean basically SAn Francisco's ecosystem is pretty much all tech and so it wasn't super passionate about that job, but I'm really glad I did do this corporate job, so just so I have kind of I guess experience to compare startup life versus corporate but also have a little bit more structure to my day and into my career and then I found my way back into beauty also in SAn Francisco, I went to work for a small natural skincare retailer and about one year into that job, I felt like it was time to move to new york because I really wanted to work in house again, a sustainable beauty brand.
00:07:41 So I sent my application resume to so many organic beauty brands in the new york city and then I got a job offer before I moved to new york to work on italian organic skincare brand called biotech Organica. And at that company I really learned how to run a business alone because the team was really small, just me and the founders and founders were more in like the, you know behind the scenes of the company and I was the one who was like traveling to trade shows, meeting with beauty editors and really representing the brand. And I really got to touch upon every aspect of the business, from operations to logistics, to pr social media, marketing, sales, business development. And I wanted to take that experience into specifically smaller female founded brands. And so I started to freelance for a couple very niche female lead brands, which to the brands are actually those two brands they consulted for first are in our shop, there are brand partners for the Pink Moon shop and then after freelancing for these two are while freelancing for these two brands, I started to think like there must be a niche for these brands that are female lead, they don't have the budget to hire someone full time in house like biotech organica did.
00:08:56 And so I felt this urge to leave bottega and then launch my own consultancy to work specifically with these female like brands And this is such a 2017, I think I read write 2017, oh I think I didn't answer your question about how or I guess entrepreneurship, so I have always wanted to launch my own business, like I think ever since I was a little kid, I always just dreamed of being a Ceo and I would always have like all kinds of business ideas flowing in my head from food related because I love cooking and I love eating and to like travel kinds of companies, so you know photography companies have always had this entrepreneurial spirit and also because I grew up with it, my dad himself was an entrepreneur, I had started small businesses when I was little, so I think I got a lot of my entrepreneurial spirit and taking risks from him and also, specifically when I was, I think it was 24 25 I started to make a list of things to do before 30 or things I wanted to accomplish before 2030 and on that list were you know, traveling solo and dining alone because at that time when I made the list, I think I just gone out of a two year relationship and I felt like okay I need to make a list of things to do that I want to accomplish on my own independently and so I had a lot of these things to do, like when I'm single, and then I had launched a company and so as I left my last relationship, I started to do a lot of these things on my list, I traveled solo to Norway, that was the first country ever traveled by myself to then I died alone a lot went to bars alone, I did so many things just really outside my comfort zone and then I was like, like there's a good time to check off the launch a company and yeah, I'm really glad I started my own company because it definitely is, I mean it's not what anyone thinks it is because I think a lot of people think like, oh, being entrepreneur, so glamorous, you're your own boss, you make your own schedule, but it is so difficult, challenging journey, but I think worth it.
00:11:02 Yeah, absolutely, I love how you've started, you know, originally began as this consultancy and it's grown into all these different areas, you know, now launching your own brand, working with the e commerce part of things and then still having your clients in those early days, what are the kinds of things you were doing for beauty brands and what were you learning from that experience? Yeah, so for these brands, I was essentially their right hand woman, so helping you know, bouncing ideas off of them for new product launches new concepts, helping them launch their brand into various distribution channels across the world from hotels and spots, who online boutiques and, you know, physical retail, green beauty stores also helping with three brands supporting their design, like redesign, working directly with their photographer or graphic designer. Uh a little bit of everything, like, essentially similar to what I did at bodega and just really helping them, you know, since a lot of these women were one woman shows and it was just literally them running everything from packing their orders and reaching out to retailers and pr and so just wanted to help support them and be a part of their business journey.
00:12:18 What do you think? Like from doing that is your number one thing you would tell women now who are entering the beauty industry, like what are the critical to dues and the critical not to do? Critical to do is definitely have a really strong brand identity after working with these various brands and seeing what helps make a brand successful in terms of getting into retail shelves and getting featured in press and, you know, a big thing is definitely your brand identity, having a really strong, unique logo, having a high quality packaging and packaging design and, you know, if you use labels make sure that they're fixed, you know, straight and doesn't look messy or their peeling off because I've definitely seen brands that have sent me products and the labels are just poor quality and so there's a lot of these factors and it's also like making a good impression. So if you're sending a package to potential retailer partner or a beauty editor, making sure that the presentation is on point, because I've also received products in the mail that I'm just like the moment I opened the box and just like I don't even want to open this product because it's just poured presentation and definitely researching.
00:13:33 Like if you're reaching out to retailers, making sure that you look at the brand's mission their ethos and the kinds of products they carry and make sure that your brand aligns with it because we got a ton of increase from brands saying we want Pink Moon to sell our brand and then I look through their ingredients and it's like not aligned with us or I've had men reach out and say I want you to carry our brand. And it's like, well it's like clear on our mission statement that we curate female lead brands. So just making sure you do your research and the number one is definitely a strong brand identity. And that's something that as Pink Moon, like as a brand we got a lot of feedback on. Yeah, you have a really cool strong identity. That's for sure. And I think now it is, you're so right and all this stuff, it sounds really like basic as if you know that you should be doing this stuff, but it is or it can be rather overlooked. And I think that now as consumers, we know that we buy with our eyes. Like if I see two products on the shelves, even if I know the one that doesn't look as good is better, I'll still probably go for the one that has the beautiful packaging because I love that kind of thing.
00:14:41 I one thing that makes me feel good when I see it. So yeah, I totally get that. What do you think is the kinds of things or what's on the list of like don't waste your time on or don't waste your money on in the beginning for these solo female founders. I would say don't waste money on ads when you're first starting out. Like really making sure that you have all your ducks in a row, like the strong identity, strong packaging and building a customer base organically because that's what we did when we first launched our online store and brand last summer is we barely spent any money on up. We're actually, we didn't spend any money on paid ads until maybe like five months after we launched the online store. Just because I really did want to focus more on organic growth. First kind of test the market. It's important to test the market. Another thing I would strongly recommend against is buying a lot of inventory up front, especially if you're new brand and your newly launched you don't want to buy 1000 units of a skew before even testing it, like doing a beta test or testing it with your close friends and family.
00:15:50 So I've seen some brands just like launch so many products and just Have 1000 sq 1000 units in their inventory and as a new brand, it's just, I mean first of all that's also really huge investment so it's really good to start slow and start small and also not launching so many products at once. I always recommend brand to launch maximum three skews at first instead of you launch with like five or 10 or I've seen some brands, I mean actually voting organica for example, they launched with like 45 skews, wow, just like without not even having a brand. Yeah, so that was definitely a huge mistake because they have to like, I think it was one or two years into my job there, we, I helped the team like reduce the number of skews and like strategically pick the ones that were selling well because if you're launching with so many skews, not only will they go to waste if they don't sell, but it's also very costly and it could also be confusing to customers. So say if you're a makeup brand and like you launch with two lipsticks and then you also have like a body scrub, it just will be confusing to customers.
00:17:00 Yeah, totally two. Yes. Yeah. Hey it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the fsc show. You'll hear women who were just like you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business and I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now. You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing mix from today onwards. I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached. Our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier Who you might also remember from our D. I. Y. course, full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business. And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month all the way to $300,000 a month.
00:18:15 And in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started, go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads. That's female startup club dot com forward slash A. D. S. And booking a call today, I want to move into the part of the story where you like, identified that you're going to launch your own Pink Moon brand under the umbrella of things that you've got going on. What was that early process? Like obviously you had so many insights, you had the blueprint of what you needed to do, how much money did you need to invest to get started? And what were those early steps? So specifically the Pink Moon brand or our online shop? I think specifically the Pink Moon brand, but happy for you to talk about both, anything.
00:19:20 Yeah, so the very first few that we launch was the Rose quartz Gua sha tool, which is actually our best seller. And I did actually launch that product like six months before we launch our online store because we were invited to do a holiday pop up and we contacted brands that consulted for to join the pop up and then we decided to launch this Gua sha tool because it would be a fun holiday gift And that we started with a small amount of units, I believe we purchased 200 and then after the pop Up was over, I launched a really small online store just to sell out the rest of the inventory from the pop Up and those squash tools. So I think for the gua sha tools and like the materials and everything like the online stores total investment was about I think I was aiming for 10,000, but it ended up being almost 20,000 and that's with like. you know, buying inventory for the store and then, you know, packaging and shipping, materials designer, web developer and photography.
00:20:30 Mhm. And when you were doing all of that, how did you actually start getting the word out and marketing this new concept store and getting the word really out there and finding your customers a lot of it was just word of mouth because since I have been consulting previously, so a lot of the brands that I consulted for our our brand partners for the store and some of the brands are also brands that I've personally been connected to either through trade shows or through my network and through funds. And so a lot of these brands promoted our launch and then we also had influencer partners who were bloggers that I previously were in touch with through the brands I consulted for and so had them announced the launch and it was just mostly organic. And then instagram of course was helpful for that. And just like announcing it to everyone from my linkedin network to my personal instagram, my personal facebook and that's how we first got the word out and then in october of last year, we partnered with a pr agency which has been really crucial to our growth and really getting us out there.
00:21:42 That's amazing. And I think like when you look back in hindsight at your journey and like the blueprint that you've done it's actually so clever because my guess is that the consultancy brought in positive cash flow, you're able to use that money to then invest in building the e. Com site and then you're able to use that to and the insights and the data to launch your own line of products as well. All the while having built this community from the very get go and these early users of who would go on to be I assume your first customers for your personal life. So obviously genius. Love that for you. What's the new line been like or not the new line but what's the new products that you've been developing? How has that been received amongst the community and what have you learned from that? Yeah. So after the garage tool we launched a face oil to complement it. So it's official oil that you use for gua sha because we had a lot of customers who purchased our garage tool back in the pop up the holiday pop up that we did or who were purchasing from mine and we would get a lot of enquiries asking what kind of oil or what kind of products should I use with this tool and so I launched the face oil.
00:22:52 Then after that we got a lot of really good keep up for better facial specifically around the scent. And so I sort of think like maybe I'll really focus my line on aromatics because I myself I personally love sent, I love scented products. It's hard for me to use unscented products. And so because if the really good feedback that we got about the face oil sent, I started to think about, okay, maybe a body oil could be next because I personally love body oils. I prefer body oils over body lotions and body creams. So it's just really looking at my personal routine and saying, okay, what do I think people will like and then go from there and then think about those sent to like I wanted to have, you know, different scent collections from so that over the moon is our face oil that's kind of like earthy rose with like mixing with some woods from sandalwood, then we have drops of sunshine which was really uplifting. It's super citrus forward but also balanced with a base of wood and floral from lavender and rosemary. Then we have midnight malady which is kind of like the seductive sweet scent that you would wear at night.
00:23:56 But that one is getting reformulated right now, but we're still going to stick with the kind of like seductive sweet nighttime feel of the site collection. And right now I'm working on more oils because we've got really good feedback about the face oil and the body oil. And now and I'm working on another face oil but it will be no sense because I know that a lot of especially pregnant woman they prefer unscented products were just like super lightly scented and so really want to make a face all that's suitable for those who are pregnant and also for those who are sensitive to sun or sometimes like for me, like I do prefer like something a little bit more subdued wise, even though I love scented products, but like sometimes I think my skin just craves a little bit, something more subdued. So I'm working on this face oil, we just launched a wellness tea. It's a foreign one. So it's ATA hair rents a facial steam and a facial hydro soul. And so really excited about that.
00:24:58 Yeah, I'm really excited about that because I love drinking teas. It's what I drink throughout the day. I don't drink coffee. So I drink tea instead. And we were, you know, really just hoping to launch products that complement our current curation and you kind of see what is our best seller and launch something to complement that for example, uh toothpaste sells really well in our store, you go toothpaste and it was just like flying off the shelves since I would say like last november. And so I launched a bamboo toothbrush under the pink, my mind to complement that. Yeah, that's really cool. I love that. And when you're thinking about marketing now, now that you've kind of launched these new products under the pink Moon umbrella by the way, I love all the names that you called them, they really speak to me as you were describing, the smells, I was like yeah, that's my vibe. They sound amazing. Um what have you been doing to grow now, now that you're kind of you know, over a year into the journey and you're just starting to release these new products, what are the things you're doing that are working in building your customer base and spreading the net wider.
00:26:06 Mhm. Yeah, so pr as I mentioned has been really crucial to our growth and it's I would say probably 90% of our sales are coming from pr mentions and so um yeah, and then we also do some paid ads but through google, so they're not like in your face instagram facebook, you know, really track what you're doing online type of ads. And then we just hired an email digital marketing agency because, you know, since as a solo founder, I was doing everything from designing our emails and sending out newsletters and blogs and whatnot. And so hiring others have been really helpful to get things off my plate and so I could focus more on high level strategy and making decisions and overall, I would say Pr has definitely been really great for us. And later on this year will probably look into doing more paid odds. That's amazing. Yeah. I think like if you can get the pr piece of the puzzle right?
00:27:09 And you have the recipe for success when it comes to the great visuals, the great brand, the great words and things like the names that you have, the products, all of this is very like louis you in a really nice way. And I think that when you get that just right mixed with pr it's the perfect recipe for success. What is your key piece of advice for women who are in the entrepreneurial journey, but a few steps behind where you are now, I would say be patient. It does take time. Um I mean of course, you know when I first launched our online store that was in the middle of a pandemic two in June of 2020. And When I first launched, I think on the day that I launched our online store, I was expecting like a ton of sales. But then I also reminded myself, Okay, I just launched like, I'm not doing paid ads, you know, don't have a pr firm, this is just all done organically and I can't expect like 50 orders in one day. And so I think being patient is definitely really important and don't be so hard on yourself because there are days where I was just like, okay, there's no order today now we really tie my emotions to it.
00:28:17 And so I think going along with that, I would advise don't tie your emotions and personal life to your business because yes, I understand it's your baby, you spend your savings on it, but it's also really important to remember to separate yourself from your business and not react emotionally to everything because we've gone like weird customer emails and I would just like read them to my fiancee. He'd be like, calm down, Lynn, you're overreacting. And he would be like, my reminder basically being like, you need to calm down and don't react emotionally and make rash decisions. So, those girls of my main advice that I've learned from my own experiences amen when I started my first jewelry brand way back when the thing that I would get the most worked up about was the negative customer emails and of course they are few and far between. But those negative emails trump any positive reviews, any amazing comments, you get any amazing content that's posted about you online.
00:29:23 Just that one email out of the blue that says something nasty, you're like, why? Like, it really gets to your soul. I feel like customer service is the first thing that now in building my new brand, I will outsource because that's something that really puts my soul. I totally get that. That's great advice too, by the way, definitely at the end of every episode we ask a series of six quick questions, some of which we might have covered, but I asked them all the same. So question number one is what's your why, why are you doing what you're doing? One is to support women. I mean to combat the beauty industry because you know, I've been working in the beauty industry for 10 years now and I've noticed so much anti women rhetoric around anti aging and making people fear aging. People fear ingredients, people fear their body and and being curvy or you know, and so on. And so one of my mission is to really change this narrative and support women celebrate women of all identities and tell them, inspire women to really love themselves and accept them for who they are.
00:30:36 I know it's really difficult, it took me some time to get to this point of complete self love where I love myself and where I'm taking good care of myself, but I really hope to change that reframe the beauty narrative and secondly also inspire women to love themselves because I myself have experienced the transformative benefits of taking care of myself after getting out of a toxic relationship and actually getting out of a series of toxic relationships because I have been I think from like age 22 all the way up to 27 in back to back toxic relationships and one of my things is to really encourage women to commit to their own joy on their own terms and inspire them to set clear boundaries and you know, do things for you and not for others. Yeah, that's so important and it is such a journey. So I really love what you're doing for women. That's that's really amazing Question. Number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop?
00:31:41 Yeah, So the one that comes to mind is a feature in new york magazine. It was three gua sha tools total in their article and it was a Q and A with one of their residents skincare writer. And I think the question was, oh I've seen that gua sha tools are really popular on Tiktok right now, what are some a a p I owned squash to brands I can buy from. And so at that time there was, you know, this uproar in supporting asian brand founders because of the anti asian hate to to Covid. And so we still get orders from this article. This article was published at the end of March and it made our month for april. So that was a really great piece, wow, that's amazing! Congratulations, love that for you. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that? Others should know about uh for the beauty industry. There are several publications that I read um there's beauty independent and there's glossy glossies, beauty and fashion.
00:32:50 And then there's beauty matter that's also kind of like a business trade publication. And then some webinars that I join that have been really helpful for us are done by this group community called Fab. It stands for Fashion and Beauty Tech and they're a global community with chapters all over the world and I actually will be collating their new york city chapter. And this community does events topics ranging from raising capital to, you know how to be a sustainable brand, to marketing and pr so kind of all topics. And specifically this group is for beauty and fashion entrepreneurs and investors. So it's a really cool group to join. It's free free community and they have 22 chapters all across the world. So definitely check it out. That's amazing. I'm going to link all of those in the show notes below. Thank you so much. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM and PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling successful and motivated and happy.
00:33:58 The first one is to sleep early. It definitely is hard to sleep early, especially during the summer because it's so hot and even with the A. C. Running, it's just extremely hot. But yeah, sleeping early is really important so that you could wake up early and get your day started and then in the morning specifically I do a quick stretch in